5 places: Where you can’t die

By Himanshu Yadav

[A]s you know, death is inevitable. But there are places where humans have made the laws which prohibit a person from dying. Dying or giving birth was banned for religious reasons in 5th century BC, on the Greek Island of Delos. Here are some places where dying is not allowed.

1. Itsukushima, Japan

The island of Itsukushima is considered a sacred location in Shinto belief, and is the site of the Itsukushima Shrine, an UNESCO World Heritage Site. Purity is of utmost concern in Shinto worship, and because of this, the shrine’s priests have attempted to keep the island free of the pollution of death. Immediately after the Battle of Miyajima in 1555, the victorious commander had the bodies of the fallen troops removed to the mainland, and ordered that the entire battlefield be cleansed of the blood that was spilled, to the point that buildings were scrubbed and blood-soaked soil was removed from the island. No deaths or births have been permitted near the shrine.

2. Sellia, Italy

Five hundred and thirty-seven people live in Sellia, a medieval hillside town right on the ball of the foot of Italy. In the 1960s, it was three times that, and today most residents are over 65. As a result, Sellia’s laws are also developing a medieval flavour. Last month, in response to its demographic crisis, the mayor, Davide Zicchinella, signed Ordinanza 11 which makes it expressly “forbidden to get ill within the municipality” and insists that “dying is prohibited”. Those who selfishly refuse to take the necessary steps to comply with this law by attending health checks can expect to be fined 10 Euros a year.

3. Lanjaron, Spain

Death has been prohibited in the Andalucian town of Lanjarón. The village, with 4,000 inhabitants, is to remain under this law until the government buys land for a new cemetery. The mayor who issued the edict explains that the awkward new law is his response to politicians urging him to find a quick fix for a long-lasting problem. The edict has become wildly popular amongst residents, even amongst political opponents of the mayor who issued the law, and was received with a sense of humor from most.

4. Longyearbyen, Norway

The frozen town of Longyearbyen in the Svalbard Islands of Norway has a completely different reason to ban deaths in the area. The bodies there never decompose. Due to permafrost, dead bodies were completely well preserved and did not decay. In fact, live samples of the virus of the Spanish influenza epidemic in 1917 were taken from bodies buried there. People who are gravely ill or about to die are taken to different parts of Norway.

5. Sarpourenx, France

Three settlements in southern France have prohibited death. The mayor of Le Lavandou outlawed death in 2000, after planning permission for a new cemetery was turned down due to environmental concerns. He described the new bylaw as “an absurd law to counter an absurd situation”. In 2007, Cugnaux also prohibited death, for similar reasons, and was subsequently granted permission to enlarge the local cemetery inspired by the town’s success, Sarpourenx was next to follow suit, in 2008.

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